'I was scared to drive in the City'

'I was scared to drive in the City'

Expat zone

Expatriates love Bangalore for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, salubrious environment, food and people. Maura Chari, an expat from Germany, shares her experiences here.

Fond memories : Maura Chari

Maura Chari has been in Bangalore longer than most of the present inhabitants of the City.

She migrated here 20 years back on work, with the intention of shuttling between India and her home in Germany.

A year down the line, however, she was married to an Indian and had made plans to settle down in Bangalore permanently.

The change may not have been easy, but two decades and three children later, Maura quite frankly calls the City home.

“I was very young when I came here — working for a company in Germany which stationed me in Bangalore to look after their production. I used to stay here two weeks at a time. But then I met my husband through work.

One thing led to another, and finally, I decided to stay back here and give my relationship a shot,” she recollects.

They soon decided to tie the knot, and Maura has fond memories of the warmth and acception she received from both her new family as well as the City. “My husband’s family are Tamilians, who had settled in Bangalore. I was welcomed with open arms,” she beams.

That didn’t mean, however, that settling down in a new place happened without any hitches. In fact, Maura remarks that it was more difficult for expats in the City 20 years back. “Bangalore was different then.

Now, expats can get everything they were used to back home here — but at that time, this City was nothing. There were many challenges, but I made it my aim to succeed,” she reminisces.

In fact, she took to her new life with a rigour that surprised many around. She quit her job and started her own company, which she describes as a learning experience. “There was a lot of scope at that time, because the Indian market had just opened to exports.

In fact, I wouldn’t have had this kind of opportunity in my own country,” she says.  One of the most difficult aspects of the change — even then — she recalls, was Bangalore’s roads.

 “I was scared to drive in the City on my own. In Germany, people drive by the rule book, so I had to completely unlearn what I had learnt in Germany. I’ve got used to it but whenever my friends and family come to visit, they’re taken aback by the way people drive here,” she explains.

The other front on which Maura had to adjust was in terms of food — especially since the family she married into is strictly vegetarian. “In Germany, we eat a lot of meat and non-vegetarian items. But after I got married, my mother-in-law taught me how to cook South Indian dishes, like idli, dosa, rasam and sambar.

I learnt all this early on — it’s a part of the culture here, and I wanted to pick it up,” she says, adding that she also made it a point to understand the different festivals which are celebrated here. “At first, I did question a lot of things. I tried to find explainable reasons for why people celebrated something in particular — and most of the time, I got satisfying answers,” she explains.

Having been here for two decades, Maura has literally seen the City change under her nose. And most of the change seems to be rather negative.

“It was much quieter and greener back then. Now, I get really sad by the way trees are being cut down everywhere. In fact, a whole line of them have been cut near my office in Adugodi, so that roads can be widened.

I understand, though, that the City is simply trying to keep up with its population — Bangalore is growing so fast and it simply doesn’t have the infrastructure to keep up with the change,” she says.

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